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Fewer refugees crossing Mediterranean this year – IOM
January 25, 2017, 6:44 pm

Italy says that 180,000 refugees arrived at its shores in 2016 [Xinhua]

The number of refugees seeking to cross the Mediterranean and reach southern European shores has significantly dropped, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported Tuesday.

It said that while 47,000 refugees made the dangerous and often deadly trek across choppy waters in the first 25 days of January 2016, that number fell to just 3,335 migrants since the start of the year 2017.

Greece and Italy are the most common destinations, the IOM said.

Nevertheless, the group warns, fatalities from drowning during the Mediterranean crossing are still substantial.

Compiling data from the Italian coast guard and others who routinely rescue capsized refugees, the number of deaths since the beginning of 2017 were 230, higher than the same period last year.

The plight of refugees, which captured world headlines during much of 2015, has not eased since the European Union attempted to find solutions to halt the dangerous sea trek.

Just last week, nearly 100 refugees drowned off the Libyan coast.

The Italian coast guard said on Sunday that it had managed to rescue only four people after a boat carrying more than 100 refugees capsized in very choppy waters off the coast of Libya.

This is the worst accident involving refugees in 2017 so far, the IOM says.

Italian authorities say that more than 180,000 refugees landed on its shores in 2016.

Recently, the struggle of refugees facing harsh winter weather in Greece has reignited the debate about their fate.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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